CHARLOTTE – After riling up the crowd at the Panthers’ draft party, David Tepper walked into the team’s war room quietly.
He took his seat in between general manager Marty Hurney and head coach Ron Rivera and settled in for his first draft night as team owner.
Tepper was fully engaged in the process, and he did a lot of listening as the players started coming off the board.
“He was a lot of fun. He was really into it,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “We actually met with him (Thursday), early this morning. We went through the plan.
“He was up on everything because he had sat in some of our meetings a couple of weeks ago. So he knew a lot of it going in and he was involved. He was really interested and really into it, so it was cool, it really was.”
But Tepper, as he’s said before, knows his limitations.
Here’s what he told the draft party crowd when asked about his role in the war room:
“Once we get on the clock? Make sure we don’t do anything incredibly stupid,” Tepper joked. “Listen, Marty Hurney is the GM of this team, and he’s the most knowledgeable person, so I’m going to respect that a little.”
Hurney and Tepper were in constant communication as the first round unfolded and different calls came in. There were laughs and back-slaps and a trip to the snack table for some trail mix.
When the Panthers were five or so picks away, that’s when things naturally got a little tense. The pressure began to build.
“You get a little impatient as you see different players picked,” Tepper said. “But the way the board fell was really good for us. I kind of knew we’d have somebody that we wanted. And we did.”
Sure enough, Florida State edge rusher Brian Burns was there for the taking when Carolina went on the clock – the first draft choice of the Tepper era.
Now it's on to Round Two.